National Denim Day is dedicated to sexual assault awareness every year on April 24. On this day, people are encouraged to wear denim clothing to show their support for victims of rape and sexual assault.
Risk Intervention and Safety Education (RISE) helps promote this day at Texas Tech and partakes in giving buttons and stickers for students to wear on campus.
Kelsey Lueck, program manager at RISE with a specialty in sexual violence prevention, said Denim Day has existed for the past 20 years.
In the 1990s, the Italian Supreme Court ruled a young woman’s rapist was not guilty because she had been wearing tight jeans at the time of the assault and “she would’ve had to help him take off her jeans,” which is assuming she was giving consent, Lueck said.
“We understand that if a perpetrator has a mission they can get any type of clothing off, jeans will not stop them,” she said.
Rape is not something that is ever asked for based on what one is wearing or not wearing, she said. There is no implying consent either, it is a verbal conversation.
“In the past three or so years that RISE has existed, we’ve made buttons and stickers to be able to give to offices, departments, students to help show why they stand together with survivors of sexual assault,” she said.
Denim is the clothing choice for this day for many reasons, she said. It is a universal material most cultures wear or know of, and it is easy for everyone to come out and wear that specific clothing. It also references the Italian Supreme Court’s ruling in 1990.
Consent can be revoked at any point in time, even if people got their jeans off and then realized that was not what they wanted, she said.
“This is an extremely hard topic to talk about, because we know that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 16 men statistically in the United States are sexual assaulted,” Lueck said.
This day makes it a little easier to have those hard conversations, she said. Someone wearing jeans on Wednesday with a sticker that supports sexual assault awareness can cause other people to ask why and start those talks.
This helps to form friendships as well and show people the different allies who are in the community, she said. It can become a bonding moment for people and create feelings of unity, love and respect on campus.
“There are many people who have been sexually assaulted or raped and haven’t had powerful people in their life to sit down with them and say your feelings are valid, how do we make sure you can be the best version of yourself even though somebody has taken advantage of you,” Lueck said.
This is a prevalent subject that impacts many people, she said, so the Tech campus needs strong people, such as those working at RISE, to sit and listen.
“I want students to be able to realize how to have awesome, supportive, consensual sex versus what it is when someone is utilizing sex as a vessel of criminal activity,” Lueck said.
Annie Saathoff, a sophomore interior design major from San Antonio, said sexual assault is a problem most people do not take seriously.
It is something that happens more than people expect or think it does, which makes it even more dangerous and scary to think about, she said.
“I think it’s common for me and my friends to think like, ‘Oh, it will never happen to us,’ but really it has happened to so many people around us, and you just never know,” Saathoff said.
Harlea Burleson, a senior political science major from Junction, said sexual assault awareness is important nowadays, and unfortunately, it is not discussed enough.
“I feel that there isn’t enough awareness out there,” she said. “Having a national day dedicated to this topic is very helpful, but a lot of people don’t even know about it.”